Friday, March 18, 2016

tp FAQ 6 How do you make a question in tp?

Well, not like that. The most striking feature of tp questions for English speakers is that they are exactly like non-questions: there is no moving of question words to the front, no added 'do's, no changes at all except in vocabulary. In fact, it is possible to make a legitimate question in tp just by putting a question mark at at the end (and using the question intonation – whatever that is – in the spoken form). This is not generally recommended, of course, as it is likely to be misunderstood.

WH questions. The easiest form of question to make in tp is the WH question: who?, what?, where? when?, why?, how?, and so on. This formed by putting the WH word where the answer would go: “Who is that man?” is 'jan ni li seme?' and the answer would be '(jan ni li) jan Wasi' (or 'seme li jan ni' with corresponding change in the answer. But the first is more tp and the latter more influenced by English). So, frame your answer and then put 'seme' in for the uncertain part. The other WH words are handled in tp with prepositions: 'tan seme?' “why?/because of what?; 'tawa seme?', “why?, for what purpose?”; 'lon seme?' “where?”; 'lon tenpo seme?', “when?”; 'kepeken nasin seme?', “how?” and so on.
One has to be careful about answering such questions, however. Although the “replace 'seme' with the answer” is a handy guide, it cannot be followed mechanically. Aside from the problems with 'nimi sina li seme' noted earlier (FAQ 2), such simple questions as 'sina seme e ona' “What are you doing to her?” can contain hidden problems. In this case, the question seems to require as an answer a transitive verb with 'ona' (assumed here to be a person) as the direct object. So, if the correct answer is 'unpa' or 'moku' or 'utala', there is no (grammatical) problem. But what if you are just talking with her? 'toki' is a transitive verb, but it does not take an animate object. You want to say 'mi toki taso poka ona' and that is the right response, answer matrix to the contrary notwithstanding. That is 'seme e' asks for a relevant predicate in which the given DO plays a significant role, but not necessarily the DO role. 'seme' in every place is to be understood in a similar broad way, asking for the relevant information, not just a quick filling of a form. Note that the answer may require a whole sentence, even though it looks like only a word is needed.

Choice questions. With WH questions, the range of answers is open, just about anything of the right sort (noun, adjective, verb) might be correct in some case. In choice questions the range is restricted to two (or a few more) choices. These choices are laid out in the appropriate place by connecting them with 'anu', “or”. “Do you want coffee or tea?” 'sina wile e telo pimeja anu telo laso?' The question mark (which I admit to often forgetting) and the question intonation are important here, since the same sentence pattern can be declarative: the announcement for the stewardess asks the question above: 'sina ken jo e telo pimeja anu telo laso', for example. The answer here is simple to give your choice 'pimeja' or 'laso' (and probably 'ala' for “neither”, and maybe 'en'/'tu' for both). This works in all positions, but the broader issues may still arise (as the neither and both options suggest – is there a further choice unmentioned?).

Y/N/- questions. These are a strange combination of the first two (and the one to come, for that matter). They consist of a declarative sentence followed by 'anu seme?' In this, 'seme' replaces a whole sentence and gives the respondent the opportunity to supply whatever he wants (of relevance, of course). But the issue here is truth. So, as a choice question, you can choose between the offered sentence, acknowledging it as true (the Y option) or anything else, which both denies the given sentence (N) and offers an opportunity to provide a replacement. Admittedly, the expected N answer is just the denial of the given sentence (it with 'ala' after the verb) and so the Y answer can be just the verb of the given sentence and the N answer just 'ala', as well as the whole sentence. But other things are possible and legitimate: given 'sina tawa sitelen tawa anu seme?' aside from '(mi) tawa (sitelen tawa') or '(mi) (tawa) ala (sitelen tawa)' you can get N answers like 'mi wile telo e linja' or even 'soweli mi li ike sijelo'. While these alternatives play a straightforward role in this kind of question, they play the role of explanations and excuses in the final kind.

Y/N questions. This is just a Y/N/- question with the options of 'seme' replaced by the negative sentence and the whole fused. However, the fusion has also been reduced so that, rather than 'sina tawa ala anu tawa sitelen tawa', we have only 'sina tawa ala tawa sitelen tawa'. But the effect is what you would expect: the answers are just 'tawa' (Y) and '(tawa) ala' (N).
[This pseudo-transformational explanation is not historically correct. The pattern was taken over from Chinese, although the direct translation would have been 'tawa tawa ala' from 'go not go', but the word order was kept, although reinterpreted. Hence the fact that the negated verb appears first, apparently.]

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